MRR Review: "Sabotage"

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Members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being taken down one by one after they rob a drug cartel safe house.
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Rating: R
Length: 109 minutes
Release Date: March 28, 2014
Directed by: David Ayer
Genre: Action/Crime/Drama

Fans of action films do not want to miss Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest flick "Sabotage,'' a fast- paced action film that follows the lives of a group of renegade drug enforcement agents. The director, David Ayer, is no stranger to the cop genre, having written the critically praised "Training Day." Ayer also wrote and directed another well-received drama about the dangers facing law enforcements officers, the 2012 film "End of Watch." Schwarzenegger's charisma and Ayer's filmmaking skills combine to give the audience a movie-going experience that will have them on the edge of their seats.

John "Breacher" Wharton is a rough and tumble Drug Enforcement Administration agent who leads a squad of tough and sometimes brutal colleagues. During a raid on a house controlled by a drug cartel, the squad comes across millions of dollars in cash. The group decides to steal $10 million of the money and hopes their theft will go undiscovered.

This set-up is in keeping with the director's previous films, which often deal with law enforcement officers who are morally compromised. Denzel Washington, for example, won the Academy Award for his portrayal of a corrupt police detective in "Training Day." Ayer uses these types of situations to explore the sometimes blurry lines that separate the forces of good and evil.

Shortly after the raid, the group comes under suspicion for the theft by their superiors. The higher-ups are unable to prove anything, so the squad is merely put on desk duty rather then being suspended or charged with a crime. Just when its seems like Wharton and his crew have gotten away with their dirty deed, the action really begins to heat up. One of the members of the crew is found murdered. Could the cartel have discovered that the squad is responsible for the theft? When another crew member is discovered dead, Wharton knows that something is up and it is time to take action.

During this portion of the film, director Ayer allows the plot to build somewhat slowly. He leaves the audience wondering who is actually behind the mysterious deaths. This makes the story much more suspenseful than the typical action flick, where the audience is never in doubt about who is behind the horrific acts taking place on screen.

Once the deaths of the squad members start to pile up, a new character enters the mix. A detective named Brentwood, played by actress Olivia Williams, starts to investigate the killings, which makes things even more difficult for Wharton and the remaining members of his unit. Despite the new complications, Wharton is determined to find out who is killing his colleagues so he can exact revenge.

Once the murders start unfolding, the film really kicks things into high gear. Director Ayer is noted for his energetic and sometimes extremely violent action sequences, and he does not hold back in the later stages of the film. The action comes at the viewer in a constant rush for the last 45 minutes of the picture, leaving the audience almost breathless from the unrelenting chaos. The high-body count continues to escalate as the film draws to a powerful conclusion.

Wharton and Brentwood ultimately team up in an effort to solve the murders, despite the fact that Brentwood believes Wharton is behind the theft of the cartel's cash. The two of them discover that there is more to the murders than meets the eye. Instead of the cartel being behind the killings, the guilty parties are people close to Wharton and their betrayal devastates him.

A climactic shootout leaves Brentwood and Wharton unscathed. The film does not end there, however, as the director has another little surprise for the audience that packs a powerful punch right at the very end.

A high-powered action film in every sense, "Sabotage" is also a character study of men and women who must deal with moral dilemmas under the most stressful circumstances. The story encompasses several genres, having elements of a murder mystery, suspenseful thriller and compelling action film. The director combines the various elements beautifully, and the viewer is both moved and excited by the unusual narrative.

No Arnold Schwarzenegger fan is likely to be disappointed after watching this riveting film. The actor gives one of his most impressive performances as a man who is neither a hero nor villain. He is surrounded by a talented cast and a director who knows how to keep audiences glued to the screen. "Sabotage" is a compelling and thought-provoking movie that is definitely worth a look.